Eubanks Turns Down Offers to Sell Stakes Winner Play Harder

3-Year-Old Maryland-Bred Pointing to $100,000 Concern July 28
Summer Meet Resumes with Nine-Race Program Friday, July 12

LAUREL, MD – Turning down the opportunity to sell 3-year-old Play Harder both privately and through public auction, Rising Sun Racing Stables, Inc.’s Dan Eubanks will continue to campaign his newly turned stakes winner.

A bay son of Grade 1 winner Outwork bred in Maryland by Maria Haire, Play Harder had his win streak extended to three races when he ran second by a nose but was promoted to victory when first-place finisher Celtic Contender was disqualified to third for interference shortly after the start of the $75,000 Star de Naskra June 29 at Laurel Park.

Days after the win, Eubanks withdrew Play Harder from Fasig-Tipton’s Selected Horses of Racing Age sale scheduled for Monday in Lexington, Ky., while also fielding offers to purchase his stable star.

“I started getting a couple offers. They were legitimate offers. [Sales officials] were telling me without the stakes win they were predicting he’d go for $200,000 or $250,000,” Eubanks said. “He had just got done running. It was pretty tiring, and I just couldn’t see shipping him all the way to Kentucky on a few days’ rest. Ten hours on a trailer, that’s not an easy task for a horse.

“The private offers I had, I had California, I had Florida, and I had New York. I didn’t have anyone in Maryland interested. The more I waited I said to myself I’d like to see this horse stay in Maryland. He’s a good Maryland-bred, continue to run in Maryland,” he added. “I’ll take the shot myself and what I was being offered, hopefully I can win that on the track in the near future.”

Play Harder, purchased for $25,000 as a 2-year-old in training last June in Ocala, Fla., has won five of six career starts and banked $171,895 in purse earnings. His only loss came when he was fractious at the gate and hopped at the start of an April 7 optional claiming allowance at Laurel and wound up third, beaten less than a length.

The seven-furlong Star de Naskra for Maryland-bred/sired 3-year-olds was Play Harder’s stakes debut.

“When I was in the paddock before that race and Ellen Charles is there, she’s got a horse in the race. The Lewis family, they had the horse that got taken down, they were all there,” Eubanks said. “You see some old-school Marylanders and I’d like to continue to race in that group of people and that competition.”

Play Harder is based at Monmouth Park with its two-time defending champion Claudio Gonzalez, who was Maryland’s overall leading trainer six consecutive years from 2017-22. The leading contender for the colt’s next start is the $100,000 Concern for open 3-year-olds sprinting seven furlongs July 28 at Laurel.

Eubanks would also like to see Play Harder run again at eight furlongs, whether in a second-level allowance or a race like the $100,000 Petramalo Mile for 3-year-olds Aug. 10 at Colonial Downs. Play Harder won an optional claiming allowance going a mile June 1 in his Star de Naskra prep.

“Right now, the first thing on our radar is that race going seven furlongs,” Eubanks said. “There was a race the other day that was a two-other-than going a mile, which I’d like for him, but I have to wait and see the new condition book. Talking with Claudio if we go in that open stakes and win, we lose that condition.

“We’re definitely still going to point toward that stakes and nominate and see how it comes up. Being an open stakes, you never know. We might get some out-of-towner in there running some big numbers,” he added. “I like to win races. If I see like the next weekend that two-other-than is in there and the stake comes up tough, I could point toward that. But for now, we’ll just keep an eye on the stake.”

Eubanks is the son of longtime Maryland horseman Annette Eubanks, who celebrated her 80th birthday in February and owns 476 career wins since 1987. She had won with three consecutive starters at Laurel before Bold Honor ran second in Sunday’s Race 2 at Laurel. Eubanks also finished second with Stormy Irish Lass in Race 6.

Already, Annette Eubanks has won with 11 of 45 starters this year after going 13-for-113 in 2023. Recent winners have been Band Camp June 30, Brilliant Ice July 5 and Hot Lookin Royal July 6.

“It’s nice. It’s very infrequent where you’ll go on streaks of winning three, four in a row or three in a weekend. I’m very thankful and grateful and I hope they keep coming,” Dan Eubanks said. “She started probably when she was [43] years old. Dad had too many horses and the training bills were outrageous, and she decided she was going to start training horses and look at her now. She’s doing good.”

Notes: Jockey Jean Alvelo rode back-to-back winners Sunday, Baron’s Legacy ($5.20) in Race 2 and Shared Authority ($13.20) in Race 3. Both Shared Authority and Tik Tok Daddy ($29) in Race 1 are owned and trained by Rudy Sanchez-Salomon … Jockey J.D. Acosta also doubled with Ballyhoo Prince ($27.80) in Race 5 and Skip Thru Da Fire ($8.60) in Race 6, as did Denis Araujo on Suga Steve ($9.80) in Race 4 and Don’t Get Caught ($8.60) in Race 8 … Skip Thru Da Fire and Suga Steve are trained by Jose Corrales … Visby ($3.20), a 5-year-old mare owned and trained by Justin Nixon, came with a steady run down the center of the Bowl Game turf course to register a neck victory in featured Race 7, an entry-level optional claiming allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting 5 ½ furlongs. The winning time was 1:02.22 … There will be a carryover of $790.70 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 4-9) when the summer meet resumes with a nine-race program Friday, July 12. Post time is 12:25 p.m.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email